UPDATED: Anne Hywood is the New General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Australia

update 2pm: I’ve seen confirmation of the appointment. I’m sure you’ll join me in congratulating Anne and praying for her.

update: I’m fairly confident now that the new General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Australia will be Anne Hywood, possibly announced later today. Anne is currently a project manager at the Diocese of Melbourne where she is responsible for “Mission Shaped Diocesan Structures”. In her linkedin profile she describes herself:

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Anne Hywood has enjoyed a diverse career across the public, private and community sectors which has included executive positions heading up State Government programs, executive leadership in not for profit organisations and senior management responsibilities in the business sector.

Areas of focus have included have included not for profit governance, strategic planning and organisational change, protocol, tourism marketing and operations, event management, sponsorship and youth development.

Anne has had a number of roles around the national church and everyone I have spoken to this morning has described her as “highly competent” or used similar langauge. She was Assistant Registrar for Grafton when the child abuse scandal developed, having arrived after the initial disclosures were made. The Australian Newspaper and the ABC have various reports outlining her response.

Anne Hywood started working with the Grafton Diocese in early 2012.

Within a short time, she discovered that the Professional Standards Committee hadn’t been active in Grafton. She found case files were not securely held, and letters from desperate victims had gone unanswered.

It also emerged that the Grafton Diocese didn’t have a dedicated professional standards director, and that contrary to the Church’s own rules, the bishop and registrar had been very closely involved in handling abuse allegations.

Having dedicated her working life to improving the Church’s policies around sexual abuse, Anne Hywood said she was furious.

ANNE HYWOOD: The fact that one diocese in the northern region of New South Wales who hadn’t followed the protocols, and if it was brought to the attention of the royal commission as it has, would reflect badly on all the good work that is being done in other dioceses throughout the Church in Australia to try and get this stuff right – and it’s very difficult to get this stuff right – but the easiest thing to do is to follow the protocols that we set for ourselves.

EMILY BOURKE: Ms Hywood said that a few years after a large group claim was settled, a handful of other victims came forward but they were told their cases were closed.

ANNE HYWOOD: I think it was an appalling pastoral response. Both those people had written directly to the bishop and both had received a letter advising that the diocese did not intend to respond to their claims in the same way they had responded to those who were part of the group claim. I saw no foundation why that should be the case, and that concerned me greatly.

I also felt it was a pastoral failing of the bishop in that these people had struggled to write their stories to him personally and thought how damaging it was that they just received a letter from a solicitor in response.

Ms Hywood has also served as the Executive Officer of the Diocese of Adelaide. Her ability to administer, coupled with her previous exposure to matters surrounding Safe Ministry and child abuse make her a prime candidate.

However, as well as her undoubted competence, the prevailing concern amongst those I have talked to is the question of her church attendance. It has been described to me as “sporadic” and “variable”. One source said of her time in Grafton that “though busy, she did not regularly attend church on Sunday”. This, of course, ties in with the question (4) noted below. Comment was also made to me that previous General Secretaries appear to have had more theological experience and thus understanding of the complexities of our current relationships within the national Church.

Ms Hywood is currently responsible for working with and helping the Archbishop of Melbourne (also the Primate) to “mission shape” diocesan structures.

In another presentation, Synod heard about plans to transform diocesan structures from ‘function-shape’ to ‘mission shape’, and to make the mission of the Diocese – ‘to make the Word of God fully known’ – the organising principle in every aspect of the work and ministry of the Diocese.
“At every point the question should be ‘Where is the mission of the church in this?’” said Paul White, Bishop of the Southern Region.
Ms Anne Hywood, who has been appointed as Project Manager, Mission-Shaped Diocesan Structures, said there would be widespread consultation about the proposals and a new model brought to the 2015 Synod for consideration.

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I understand that the Standing Committee of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia may be asked to make a decision on the appointment of a new General Secretary following the retirement of Martin Drevikovsky after the General Synod met earlier this year.

The Standing Committee meets only twice a year and it is very likely that there will not be a General Synod for another four years so the appointment is vital; Church administrators have the ability to do a pound of good and a tonne of harm.

Traditionally a cleric towards the end of their working life had been picked. Drevikovsky was a break from this tradition and a much-respected one. At General Synod the Primate described the General Synod office as having been in disarray prior to his appointment. It is now considered to be in much better health, thanks also to some other wise appointments.

I had heard some discussion previously that some considered that given the impending high workload and ever increasing complexity brought about by the government’s inquiry into child abuse in insititutions, that a lawyer might be a preferred candidate.

The process has not been without it’s controversy.

  1. The application deadline was extended a number of weeks at the request of a very senior figure in order to allow a particular candidate to apply.
  2. Four candidates were interviewed and the name of the “late” candidate has now been forwarded to the Standing Committee for their consideration.
  3. The candidate resides in NSW.
  4. Perhaps most importantly, I understand that at least one member of Standing Committee has asked the question whether the candidate regularly attends an Anglican church, or even any church at all.

Could it be that we will end up with an administrative head who who no longer regularly attends church? I’ll try to keep you up to date as the process continues.

Comments

comments

5 comments on “UPDATED: Anne Hywood is the New General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Australia

  1. Ms. Hywood is becoming General Secretary at the most difficult time in the life of the National Church. Bishop Curnow's report on the number of dioceses that are simply not viable (available from the national church website at
    http://www.anglican.org.au/general-synods/2014/Documents/books/Book%208_for%20website.pdf ) will come home to roost during her watch,

    Fewer dioceses leads to higher assessments leads to higher discontent with the National Church. Ms. Hywood deserves out prayers as she attempts to navigate through the difficulties she will face over the next few years.

    James Flavin.

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